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VIDEO: USC Trojans Running Back Curtis McNeal Goes From Hero To Goat With Fumble Against Stanford

It's funny how fast things can change for a player. On Staurday, USC Trojans running back Curtis McNeal had 20 carries, 145 yards, and two touchdowns against the Stanford Cardinal. He put the Trojans ahead with a touchdown in the third quarter, and then extended that lead with another touchdown a few minutes later. It looked like USC was going to hand the Cardinal their first loss, and the junior would be hailed as one of the heroes who made it happen.

But then.


In triple overtime, McNeal ran to the line of scrimmage and had the ball stripped away. It bounced into the end zone where a Stanford redshirt freshman by the name of A.J. Tarpley fell on it, resulting in a USC loss.

After the game, McNeal addressed the media and said, "I think I was a little careless with the ball. At that moment in the game, you just have to hold onto the ball, no matter how good of a game you've had, no matter what you did the game before. Pretty much, I didn't take care of my job." It was a big thing for him to stand there and own what had happened. There are a lot of professional athletes who wouldn't be able to do the same.

By contrast, A.J. Tarpley spent his post-game interviews repeatedly diving to the ground for, in order, a nickel, a penny, and a partially-unwrapped Fun Size Snickers bar that he assured reporters was "still good."